The Seattle Sounders are in serious trouble.


They currently sit in last place in the Western Conference, having accrued just 17 points in their first 17 games. The 17 points are eight points less than the sixth-placed Vancouver Whitecaps, meaning the Sounders will have to make up at least that many points over their last 17 games if they hope to reach the playoffs. One good bit of news is that they do have at least one game in hand on every other team in the conference.


Seattle have reached the playoffs every season since they have been in MLS, dating back to 2009, and this start may mean they will miss out for the first time.


If that does happen, Sigi Schmid and the rest of his team can point to one thing: their lack of goals.


So far, the Sounders have scored just 14 goals in 17 games. This comes after averaging almost two goals per game in 2014 and 1.3 in 2015.


At first, you might think that the Sounders are creating fewer chances, but that is simply not the case. They are currently averaging 13.47 shots per game, which is the sixth-highest average in the league, compared to last season when they took just 9.74 shots per game, the lowest average in the league.


More to the point, they are not converting their chances at the same rate they were last season. This year they are scoring on 6.11 percent of their shots, the lowest percentage in MLS. Last year that percentage was at 13.29 percent, the second-best rate in the league.


You could point to the quality of the chances they have had, but that does not change the narrative.


They are averaging 1.29 big chances per game this season, compared to 1.41 last year. Again, their conversion rate is where the fault lies. They have converted just 27.27 percent of their big chances this season, after converting 54.17 percent of those same chances last year. Even the percentage of shots they are taking inside and outside of the box largely remains unchanged, with 57.64 percent of their shots coming from inside the box this year compared to 61.03 percent last year.


Of course, converting chances is usually a striker’s job and Clint Dempsey has struggled just as much as his teammates. Deuce has just two goals on 43 shots, a conversion rate of just 4.65 percent. That pales in comparison to his numbers in 2014 and 2015 when he sat at 14.37 percent.


The US international could simply be missing his former partner-in-crime. Obafemi Martins was transferred to Shanghai Shenhua right before the season started and the team has been unable to replace him so far.


The offensive numbers they have posted so far look very similar to the ones they did in the games he was absent during his three years in Seattle.


Sounders with and without Martins starting 2013-15

With/Without
Goals/Game
Shots/Game
Points/Game
Win %
With
1.8
9.5
1.9
59.1%
Without
.9
8.7
1.1
30.6%

There has been a lot of talk about the Sounders bringing in playmakers such as Sebastian Blanco or Nicolas Lodeiro. There’s no doubt that those players would help the Sounders create better scoring chances, but does the answer lie farther up the field? Dempsey, Jordan Morris and co. will have to answer some questions over the next couple of months if the Sounders have any hope of making the playoffs.